I pass under this tree half a dozen times a week, on my way to the library, grocery store, or out for a daily walk. I’ve admired its leaves as I’ve walked toward it, and I’ve appreciated its shade in the summer. But I don’t know that I’ve looked up from beneath it. Until my son walked with me, showing me how to take pictures with my new smart phone. It was when Jared raised his camera to take this picture that I looked up and saw how blue the sky looked against the golden leaves. How could I have passed under these branches so many times, blind to their graceful stretching?
A bird’s-eye view can be amazing, and I love seeing things from above. But if this picture is any indication, a groundhog’s-eye view offers its own beauty.
The effect of one good-hearted person is incalculable.
Oscar Arias Sanchez
[Nobel Peace Prize winner, former president of Costa Rica who worked for peace and justice throughout South America]
It doesn’t take millions of dollars or an Ivy League education to change the world. Those things can be helpful, sure enough, but true change is accomplished because it is rooted in the compassionate heart of an individual or group. It’s not really that surprising, if I give it some thought.
The catch: the good-hearted person may never see the change he or she effected. Isn’t that a wonderful truth? The good done remains a mystery to the one who began the whole thing.
It brings to mind another saying: there’s no end to the good you can accomplish – as long as you don’t mind who gets the credit…
May I be thankful enough for what I have and who I am to be unconcerned with receiving credit for the good I might do…
It’s a line from Irving Berlin’s song, delivered in Holiday Inn by Bing Crosby. In the scene, he’s sitting down to a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner alone. A record cheerily plays Bing singing about all the things he’s thankful for while the live Bing sits alone, feeling sorry for himself. He talks back to his recorded self, listing life’s faults and shortcomings. Unlike the line in the song, there’s plenty more he’d like to ask for.
This being a Hollywood musical, everything works out splendidly for everyone involved, and the movie ends with amazing singing and dancing.
Most of us know life isn’t an Irving Berlin musical. We don’t get the girl (or boy, depending), our career plans go awry, and there’s rarely world class singing and dancing to celebrate at the end of each calendar year. Even for the people whose lives work out that way, everything gained doesn’t guarantee joy and fulfillment – no one and nothing can provide another’s happiness and contentment. There will be arguments and bad days.
Bing’s character may be wrong in the everyday sense: a laundry list of positives without the inevitable negatives is naive at best and misleading at worst. But he’s right in the much larger sense. When we know that our lives are held by God, that we are God’s beloved children, we don’t bet our joy and happiness on our current circumstances. We are enough because God delights in us. We may ask for more worldly goods, but there’s nothing more our spirits need to live holy lives. We can be happy, not because what we have is always enough, but because we are always enough. We are always loved. And so, with Bing, we can sing: how could anybody ask for more?
[Irving Berlin, Holiday Inn soundtrack, recorded in 1942, released by Sunbeam records, 1979 & 2004]